This page lists the best blogging tools and most helpful resources we've discovered during our blogging journey, because the one thing that frustrated us most when we began blogging was not knowing where to go for help — or even where to start.
We do NOT want you to feel those same frustrations, so we've listed our favorite resources in one convenient location so you won't have to hunt them down for yourself.
This is an ever-evolving list, and we'll include new services as we add them to the rotation.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, we may receive a small referral fee at no cost to you. Read our disclosure policy here. We donate 25% of our “click money” proceeds to these charitable organizations.
The Best Blogging Tools for Beginners
Each of these links is to a product we currently use, love, and consider essential to blogging. We never recommend products anywhere on our site unless we absolutely 100% love them.
The majority of these products are also FREE. Many offer paid upgrades to unlock additional features, and we've indicated that with a [FREE +] sign or we've included the upgrade price next to the name.
The Best Organizational Resources for Bloggers:
Asana (FREE +): This is the only project management tool we use. We enter blog topics into our calendar and set due dates, then Asana emails reminders as those dates near. It's very easy to add multiple users and assign tasks. We credit Elle & Co. for introducing us to Asana via this handy video, which we recommend you watch, too! [We use the free version.]
Favorite Feature: Flying unicorns. Really. Whenever you mark a task as completed, a colorful celebratory uniform flies across your screen and makes you feel all magical.
The Best Free Stock Photography Sites for Bloggers:
Unsplash (FREE): Lots of high-definition nature, lifestyle, and food photos. All are free for download and can be used anywhere! Very high quality shots, no copyright restrictions.
Picnoi (FREE): We're huge fans of this site for the images showing diversity and multi-racial families. All photos are free for download and don't have any copyright restrictions.
Minimography (FREE): If you're in need of minimalistic imagery of computers, work environments, and nature shots — Minimography is the place for you. Free images, no copyright restrictions.
Death to Stock (FREE): Subscribe to have free stock photos emailed directly to your inbox. If you're a writer, they'll send writing prompts along with the photos.
FoodiesFeed (FREE): Attention food photographers! This is the place to go for beautiful food photography that doesn't fall under any copyright restrictions.
Creative Market (FREE +): This site is addicting! They offer designer fonts, Pinterest + Instagram templates, media kits, and beautiful stock photos. Register for a free account with Creative Market, and you'll get 6 free goodies in your inbox every Monday. You can also purchase bundle packages worth thousands for as low as $10 or $15, like the 94-In-1 Font Bundle. The 400+ Blogger Collection Lightroom Presets is a helpful option for fashion bloggers!
The Best Social Media Resources for Bloggers:
Tailwind (FREE +): We love Tailwind because it makes our Pinterest account appear active even when we're out having fun! Tailwind posts pins (that we've selected) onto our Pinterest boards at optimal times to provide the best exposure. You have the option to set intervals so pins are posted hours or even days apart and can post a single image to multiple boards with the click of a button. Begin with the free trial to schedule up to 100 pins, then upgrade to pro if you love it. [We love it and use the paid version.]
CoSchedule ($15/mo+): Read our in-depth review of CoSchedule to discover why we think it's worth it to pay the monthly fee for this blogging tool. A few highlights include the drag-and-drop calendar and the ReQueue feature to promote our most popular social media posts. [We use the paid version.]
Buffer (FREE +): Do you surf the web late at night (as we do) and find awesome content, but then bookmark it for later because you know no one is awake to see your share? If so, use Buffer to schedule those posts to Facebook or Twitter at a time you designate. [We use the free version. ]
The Best Email & List Building Resources for Bloggers:
MailerLite (FREE +): MailerLite is a great way to stay in touch with readers via email. Send emails for free up to 1,000 subscribers. After that, you'll have to upgrade to a paid plan, but it's inexpensive. You can create landing pages and those handy welcome bars that you see along the top of many websites (like the handy and also free HelloBar). Use our MailerLite affiliate link to score a $30 credit! We love MailerLite because it has the same features as ConvertKit at half the cost. [We use the paid version.]
Unroll.me (FREE): Once your business or personal email account gets out of control, it's difficult to reign it back in. Unroll.me displays a list of all your email subscriptions on one handy page, and you can simply click on the ones you no longer want. The app will handle unsubscribing you from there. You can unsubscribe from hundreds of annoying emails in seconds! [We use the free version.]
The Best Developer Resources for Bloggers:
Nothing drives us crazier than technology problems! Seriously. You don't want to be anywhere near our house when something goes wrong with the website, because we turn into major grumps.
Securi (FREE+): If you ever suspect your site's been hacked, use Securi's free sitechecker to run a free scan for malware, website errors, out-of-date software, and blacklisting status. (If you visit a site and suspect it may be hacked, you can also check it via Securi.) [We use the free version.]
Codeable (rates vary): You can seriously harm your website if you make one wrong adjustment to the coding on the back end, so it's best to leave that to the professionals. The Codeable team knows WordPress inside-and-out and they fix problems fast. Pay by the job and bid jobs out to multiple developers to get the best rate. The specific developer that we use and highly recommend is named Justin Frydman. Use our affiliate link to receive a discount when you book your first job! [We pay for this service. Worth it a million times over!]
The Best Hosting Company for Bloggers:
WP Engine ($29/mo +): We started out with Bluehost, but we ran into too many problems with them. WP Engine's customer service is legendary! Type a question into their help bar and speak with a live service specialist in under 5 minutes on average — day or night. WP Engine has built-in security so we don't have to worry about paying for separate site protection plans, backups are automatic, and they have free staging sites so you can make changes on the back end anddebut your new site when you're ready.
Favorite feature: If you're on a different host and want to switch to WP Engine, the WP Engine Automated Migration plugin makes switching a breeze!! No need to hire a developer or spend hours doing it yourself when they take care of everything for you. You can even leave your current site running and preview the migrated version in a staging site before going live to ease all worries.
The Best Design Resources for Bloggers:
Canva (FREE +): If you aren't a graphic designer and/or don't want to deal with the steep learning curve of Adobe products, Canva is a great way to create eye-catching graphics easily and professionally. It's free and offers lots of great fonts and photos. We also use Canva to create many of our pinnable images.
Adobe Creative Suite (FREE TRIALS then $9.99/mo +): Photoshop has somewhat of a steep learning curve, but if you're willing to take the time to learn it, it's one of the most powerful tools in Adobe's lineup of already stellar products. We use it for editing and resizing photos, adding titles to pinnable images, and for creating ebooks. You can get a free trial to test out Adobe Cloud. Students and teachers receive discounts on Adobe products!
Jessica Molina Design (rates vary): Our logo was created by two designers (which isn't the norm). Typically you'd have just one designer create the entire image, but we loved Renee's hand lettering style at PixelPolish and commissioned her to do the lettering portion. Jessica, from Jessica Molina Design, created the cute girl with the messy bun and then assembled the logo. Jessica also does graphic design work, collateral, and hand lettering.
Genesis Theme from StudioPress ($59.95): First things first, you need a good foundation. The foundation of our blog's design runs on the Genesis theme. It's a responsive theme that is SEO-friendly. Genesis is often referred to as the “gold standard” for themes and we love that it keeps things running perfectly behind the scenes.
Restored 316 Designs ($50 +): Once you have a good foundation, you need to design a beautiful blog! We use child themes to create the pretty packaging on our website. We're running the Simply Charming Theme as our child theme and love it! Simply Charming allows for fun customizations.
The Best SEO & Site Statistics Resources for Bloggers:
Google Analytics & Google Analytics Keyword Planner (FREE): Every blogger should have Google Analytics installed on their site! It tells you who is visiting your site, how they arrived, and what they're clicking on. It allows you get to know your reader and demographics better. If you plan to monetize your blog, many sponsors will request your analytics so it's best to set it up right from the start.
YOAST SEO (FREE): This is hands down the best SEO plugin on the market. Yoast is such a robust tool and it helps us to rank high in organic searches even without an extensive knowledge of SEO.
Jaaxy (FREE +): This tool is another must have and we do mean MUST HAVE. Although Google Analytics' Keyword Planner is good for locating ideas for keywords, it's designed for advertisers. (Or for bloggers interested in implementing Google Adsense ads.) It's NOT designed to help bloggers who want to rank high in google searches. Jaaxy focuses on helping content creators (that's you! and us!) rank high in Google searches for specific key words and phrases.
Favorite features: There are too many to count. Jaaxy lists the number of websites competing for specific keywords. It ranks each keyword from 0 – 100 and color codes terms from red to green so you can easily see which ones are best. Jaaxy tells EXACTLY which terms people are searching for so you can get your target audience to your blog. It also has a brainstorm feature to help you find new keywords if you tend to target similar ones frequently.
Start out with your free trial of Jaaxy right here, then thank us later when your posts begin ranking on page 1 & 2 of Google searches!
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The Top Affiliate Programs for Bloggers:
If you plan to monetize your blog, we suggest starting out with the following beginner-friendly affiliate programs:
Amazon Affiliates (FREE): Amazon is one of the best and easiest ways for a new blogger to begin earning money online. The interface is easy to use and they'll deposit directly into your bank account when you earn as little as $10!
Rakuten (FREE): Rakuten Linkshare is the #1 affiliate site and one you'll want to join asap if you plan to share products from Nordstrom, Macy's, AT&T, or any number of other giant retailers. You'll receive your first check once you've earned $50 with Rakuten!
ShareASale (FREE): Just like Rakuten, it's best to join the program if you plan to link to any number of major national retailers! Their clients include giants such as the NBA and NFL clothing retailers, in addition to stationary companies like Minted and Tiny Prints.
Affiliate Window (FREE): Awin is based out of Europe, so it's a great option for European-based bloggers. It includes many travel companies such as Lonely Planet, Trusted Housesitters, and Booking.com, so definitely look into it if you're US-based travel blogger.
Influencer Marketing Campaigns:
Educational Sites for Bloggers:
Melyssa Griffin (FREE): Got a question about anything blog related? Melyssa probably has the answer. She's been blogging for years and writes very detailed posts explaining how to solve your biggest blogging issues. She also started a very helpful Facebook group where beginning and advanced bloggers go to help one another.
Elle & Co. (FREE): Want to turn your blog into a business? You'll find great tips here about transitioning from a hobby to a career. Be sure to tune in for the weekly “Ellechat” series of helpful webinars!
Clickin Moms (FREE +): If you want to improve your photography or editing skills, Clickin Moms is the place to be. The site offers tutorials, Q&A sessions with professional photographers, paid courses, a helpful forum, photo critiques, and more!
Best Paid Courses for Bloggers:
Elite Blog Academy: This is the one and only comprehensive blogging course we recommend. Start a successful blog and learn every detail about running it from start to finish from expert Ruth Soukup of Living Well Spending Less. Her in-depth video series is motivating, instructional, and easy-to-follow — even if you're a complete newbie to the world of blogging. The catch is that this course goes so in-depth and is so comprehensive that Ruth only offers it one time per year, and if you miss it — you lose out until the next year. It's coming up in March and if you miss it, you'll have to wait until 2019. Get on the waitlist here. It's the best way to ensure your blog's future growth and success.
We'll keep adding to this list as we include new “best blogging tools” in our arsenal. Feel free to ask questions or advice about any of the ones we've listed in the comments section! Happy blogging. 🙂
**This list is current as of January 2018.